I can say this with almost 100% certainty (perhaps 99.9%): if you are a person living on this planet, you enjoy listening to music. You may prefer the dark melodies and heavy guitar riffs of punk rock, or you might gravitate towards the light and upbeat sounds of electro pop. Whatever particular concoction of rhythms and sounds you prefer, rest assured that there is something that tickles your fancy.
There is something else you should know. While most folks readily profess a stalwart love for music, they simultaneously describe a deep hatred for mathematics. When thinking about classroom mathematics and modern music, it is natural to initially presume that the two are diametrically opposed, but this line of thinking is incorrect. The two are in fact inextricably connected (to hear more about the connection between math and music, check out my video on the applications of math). Music is simply an auditory extension of mathematics. Making good music mandates that composers adhere to numerical laws of rhythm, timing, and melody. Scales are literally mathematical rules applied to vibrational frequencies that seem be universal across the planet. Many famous composers like Iannis Xenakis openly use mathematical theories to create musical works of art.
But there is another connection to take notice of that is highly relevant to our young math students today. According to an article from Brain Balance, “using specific music and sounds may help to stimulate one hemisphere more than the other and possibly create more balance in the brain. As such, listening to music could improve a student’s cognition and ability to learn math skills. As recently as 2012, one study showed that listening to music during a math test could improve performance by 40 percent.” Translation: music can help you learn math! Moreover, the article purports that upbeat music and major tones in particular can bolster left hemisphere activities, which is directly relevant to logic based tasks like science and math reasoning.
I have known about the harmonious relationship between mathematics and music for some time now. Recognizing the interplay between the two was the impetus for me to begin the creation of a series of math music videos. I try to bridge the gap between music and math by literally singing about math related concepts. Moreover, I use the choruses as a sort of musical mnemonic device to give students the best opportunity possible to memorize tricky formulas and perform well on tests. To check out my latest math music video on special right triangles, click here.
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